NEW YORK (WABC) -- Mask mandates may be a thing of the past in several parts of the country, but organ transplant recipients and other immunocompromised people rely on them.
Dr. Michael de Vera is the chief of transplant surgery at Loma Linda University Health and says about 3% of Americans are transplant patients and millions more have comorbid conditions that heighten their risk from COVID-19.
Dr. de Vera advises his patients to carefully consider crowded situations and to control what they can.
"I want to emphasize, get vaccinated," he said. "It decreases the risk of getting severe COVID, and the other thing is to just continue to wear a mask."
Here are more of today's COVID-19 headlines:
Florida governor scolds group of students for wearing masks
A visibly annoyed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis admonished a group of students for wearing face masks at an indoor news conference Wednesday, saying it was time to stop what he called "this COVID theater."
DeSantis, a fierce opponent of virus mask and vaccine mandates, approached the students and asked them to remove their masks as they awaited the Republican governor at the news conference at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
"You do not have to wear those masks. I mean, please take them off. Honestly, it's not doing anything. We've got to stop with this COVID theater. So if you wanna wear it, fine, but this is ridiculous," he said, letting out an audible sigh and shaking his head.
As vaccine demand falls, states are left with huge stockpile
As demand for COVID-19 vaccines collapses in many areas of the U.S., states are scrambling to use stockpiles of doses before they expire and have to be added to the millions that have already gone to waste.
From some of the least vaccinated states, like Indiana and North Dakota, to some of the most vaccinated states, like New Jersey and Vermont, public health departments are shuffling doses around in the hopes of finding providers that can use them.
State health departments told The Associated Press they have tracked millions of doses that went to waste, including ones that expired, were in a multi-dose vial that couldn't be used completely or had to be tossed for some other reason like temperature issues or broken vials.
Nearly 1.5 million doses in Michigan, 1.45 million in North Carolina, 1 million in Illinois and almost 725,000 doses in Washington couldn't be used.
NFL suspends all COVID protocols, cites 'encouraging trends'
The NFL has suspended all aspects of its COVID-19 protocols, citing recent trends showing that the spread of the coronavirus is declining.
In an agreement with the players' association, the league sent a memo to the 32 teams Thursday in which it mentioned "encouraging trends regarding the prevalence and severity of COVID-19, the evolving guidance from the CDC, changes to state law and the counsel of our respective experts" as reasons for the move.
Should the NFL find reasons to reimpose any aspects of the protocols, it will do so in conjunction with the NFL Players Association.
Teams are required to remain in compliance with state and local laws and may continue "reasonable measures to protect their staff and players," said the memo obtained by The Associated Press.
Regardless of vaccination status, players and staff no longer must wear face coverings at team facilities, though each club can require it individually. Social distancing signs no longer are required as well.
Anti-vaccine doctor pleads guilty to joining Capitol riot
A California doctor known as a leading purveyor of coronavirus misinformation pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge on Thursday for joining the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last year.
Dr. Simone Gold, founder of the anti-vaccine group America's Frontline Doctors, entered the plea to a charge of entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds.
The conviction carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
The doctor also acknowledged then entering the building and giving a speech in Statuary Hall about her opposition to coronavirus vaccine mandates and lockdowns imposed by the government. She also has told The Washington Post that she regretted going inside the building.
Why are COVID vaccination rates still low in some countries?
Experts say there are several reasons why COVID-19 vaccination rates are still low in some countries, in addition to limited supplies. Other challenges now include unpredictable deliveries, weak health care systems and vaccine hesitancy.
Many countries with low vaccination rates are in Africa. Other places include Yemen, Syria and Haiti. For most of last year, developing nations were plagued by a lack of supplies. Other setbacks have emerged including poor infrastructure to distribute the shots and a lack of materials like syringes.
Vaccine hesitancy has also contributed to low uptake.
New CDC maps on COVID community levels
The CDC released new maps on the basis for the federal government's guidance on mask-wearing and other safety precautions for your local communities.
How many times can I reuse my N95 mask?
How many times can I reuse my N95 mask? It depends, but you should be able to use N95s and KN95s a few times. The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention says health care workers can wear an N95 mask up to five times. But experts say how often the average person can safely wear one will vary depending on how it's used. Using the same mask to run to the grocery store, for example, is very different than wearing it all day at work.
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